Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Back in the Day...

When I was a kid and this guy was riding through the gates of the city on a colt...

Our typical response, upon hearing that some official had been responsible for causing financial loss to the state, was "We go take him for firing squad!"

Oh, how times have changed. Today I'm hearing three stories:

First, the US has probably been subsidizing and arming Iraqi militias. Although someone at some point might have thought, "Hey, maybe we shouldn't just hand out guns to young Iraqi men haphazardly," this glimmer of lucidity was shortly followed by, "Nah, who cares? What's the worst that can happen?"

Second, the Interior Department has given up reducing its illegal subsidy of oil and natural gas companies. Apparently lawyers for private firms are shocked, since they're going forward in their lawsuits to call the companies to task for underpaying royalties. But the department's auditors have been ordered to stand down, even though they're confident they would win. We're looking at losses in the billions.

But finally, a great victory in the battle against corruption! Here in Ohio, the federal government has been cracking down on state errors in food stamp administration that led to losses. The state has in turn come down hard on the counties, and is requiring the counties to make up the difference. The counties agree that they should pay for their mistakes, but they wonder whether, instead of paying out of pocket, they could just have their future disbursement of food stamp money reduced by the amount of the penalty.

As we used to say, "Kalabuli Man (corrupt official)? We go cut his head!"

Friday, October 27, 2006

Harem Scarum

I had to post a link to my favorite Youtube video right now: MC Hammer's Pray, in which the Hammer wears the pants while the girls (in his harem?) dance.

I first saw this video on a friend's TV in 1990 in Zuarungu, northern Ghana, replayed on the national TV station.

(Enjoy while it lasts, kids: Youtube is going completely corporate!)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leaning Wit It

This is fun. (Thanks wayne&wax.) Atlanta-based rappers Dem Franchize Boys have this video to their song "Lean Wit It, Rock Wit It." The video's fun, with the catchy dance that might challenge the mighty Macarena...

What really gets me going is the fashion aesthetic of the video. I came of age during NWA, Eazy-E, Geri curls, big jackets, parachute pants, unlaced high-top sneakers, chains, earrings, etc. "MC Hammer" and 2 Legit 2 Quit (pictured). It's just a nostalgia trip for me to see these crazy young kids doing it again.

So in the spirit of the RunDMC/Aerosmith protomashup of "Walk This Way," we might appreciate this mashup: Dem Franchize Boyz vs. Korn, "Coming Undone Wit It"

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Public Enemy No. 1

If a new law passes, New York City will ban Crisco use in restaurants, although it appears that it might remain on store shelves, for a while at least.

This might make it hard for vegans to enjoy pastries, since the only substitute for Crisco is butter or lard. A total ban on Crisco would also radically reshape how busy people cook, since--as anyone who's ever watched Jacques and Julia knows--when you make your crust with butter, you have to chill the crust in between mixing it and rolling it out.

Further, I think such a law might oppress those of a certain class position who were raised with Crisco. I know, the diet was subsidized and legislated... But one could say the same for "Border" (Tex-Mex) food, with its tripe, mystery meat, and "refried beans," the culinary leftovers from white society's desire for filets and T-bones.

And some might argue that tripe is also dangerous. But just try to ban it, I dare you...

I say, rise up in defense of Crisco!

"We must unite against the common enemy..."

"The Judean Peoples' Front?!"

"No no, the Romans!"

According to Juan Cole, in signing the Mecca Declaration, Sunni and Shi'i clerics from Iraq have resolved that, essentially, there is no major difference between Shi'i and Sunni Muslims. This is a truly historic landmark. Cole cites a story in al-Sharq al-Awsat. Here's another story.

And speaking of conquerors of the Middle East, get over to LN's always-hip Strange Land to see an animated flash map of Middle East empires over the past 5000 years. (Even though it does leave off all invasions since 1948, including US, Israeli, Moroccan, Iraqi, Turkish, and other attempted or achieved conquests...)

Friday, October 20, 2006

Blad Schizo

Last week's Tel Quel cover says a lot. Blad Schizo, or "Schizo-Land," is also the title of the recent punk-ska-surfer anthem by Hoba Hoba Spirit, a Casablanca band. Listen here.

Loosely translated from the lead opinion piece:

"Schizophrenia's 'local sauce'

"There is thus a Moroccan schizophrenia, which we maintain even as it influences us. All the symptoms are there, mixed up in a local sauce. Psychiatrist Mekki Touhami describes the specifics: 'Many schizophrenics are locked up, charged through their delirium, in a neo-reality. In our society, this neo-reality often takes the form of a persecution complex: the jnoun [evil spirits] live in me and control me, my neighbors are out to get me, my wife is poisoning and bewitching me.' It's easy to find the same paranoiac attitude in general public policy speeches. Behind each public action, we seek the conspiracy, the conflict of interest, the hidden motives. But these are logical attitudes, when we recall the opacity which prevailed for a long time in our mode of governance. Recall that Tazmamart [a secret prison] was supposed not to exist, and then became the subject of several best-sellers and documentaries on our national television stations. Not so long ago, the famous 'foreign powers' were invoked to explain all of our dysfunctions. Today, official speech has been rationalized: no one dares to fall back on such language anymore. Instead, the street has taken over such duties: Are Arabs doing badly? It's Israel's fault. It's George Bush's fault."

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yogurt Scripts

I give you a complex of commercial language and alphabet use in Moroccan product packaging:

Two occurrences of Roman script:
- Moufid, an Arabic word meaning useful or beneficial
- OCT, date stamp

Arabic script, representing French loan words and Arabized French words:
- danun (“Dannon”)
- vitaminat (feminine plural, “vitamins”)
- kalsyum (“calcium”)
- vanila (“vanilla”)
- gh (abbreviation for ghram, “grams”)

Arabic script, representing Arabic words:
- dirham (itself a root word from the Greek drachma)
- yustahliku qabla 27 OCT (“to be consumed before Oct. 27”)
- yuhfizu fi daraja 6° c (“to be kept below 6° C”)

I guess I just find it kind of funny that Roman script is used to write an Arabic word, even as Arabic script is used to write non-Arabic words.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Atlantic Charter

In the spirit of Hawgblawg's reposting of the Magna Carta's section on habeus corpus, I present here the text of the Atlantic Charter (1941).

"The President of the United States of America and the Prime Minister, Mr. Churchill, representing His Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom, being met together, deem it right to make known certain common principles in the national policies of their respective countries on which they base their hopes for a better future for the world.

"First, their countries seek no aggrandizement, territorial or other;

"Second, they desire to see no territorial changes that do not accord with the freely expressed wishes of the peoples concerned;

"Third, they respect the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live; and they wish to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them;

"Fourth, they will endeavor, with due respect for their existing obligations, to further the enjoyment by all states, great or small, victor or vanquished, of access, on equal terms, to the trade and to the raw materials of the world which are needed for their economic prosperity;

"Fifth, they desire to bring about the fullest collaboration between all nations in the economic field with the object of securing, for all, improved labor standards, economic advancement, and social security;

"Sixth, after the final destruction of the Nazi tyranny, they hope to see established a peace which will afford to all nations the means of dwelling in safety within their own boundaries, and which will afford assurance that all the men in all the lands may live out their lives in freedom from fear and want;

"Seventh, such a peace should enable all men to traverse the high seas and oceans without hindrance;

"Eighth, they believe that all of the nations of the world, for realistic as well as spiritual reasons, must come to the abandonment of the use of force. Since no future peace can be maintained if land, sea, or air armaments continue to be employed by nations which threaten, or may threaten, aggression outside of their frontiers, they believe, pending the establishment of a wider and permanent system of general security, that the disarmament of such nations is essential. They will likewise aid and encourage all other practicable measures which will lighten for peace-loving peoples the crushing burden of armaments."

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy First Bloggiversary!

Exactly one year ago, in my first blog post ever I reviewed Bill Mallonee's show at Scottie McBean's in Worthington (Columbus), Ohio.

Here are the lyrics to the 6/8 mandolin-and-pedal steel country swing ballad "Sick Of It All," one of his songs off the 1997 re-release of the Vigilantes' most famous album, 1993's Killing Floor (which, I'm happy to see, is now out of print and worth $18):

Guess I should get up and cut the grass
Autumn is upon us, summer breathin her last
Prices goin higher and factories shuttin down
My kids are gettin hungry and friends are leavin town

Yes I'm a regular in the tavern in my neighborhood
Lately goin down there more than I should
Dan Rather used to tell me what was meant by it all
Now I just nurse a buzz and I stare at the wall

And I know I've cleaned my guns a lot this fall
But you know how it is when you get so
Sick of it all

Insurance ran out and we're not covered
My savings and loan she just went under
Lord I know I'm a sinner and I know I'm a fool
But how could an honest man pay up on these dues

Gonna make for us a little place in the sun
Now I'm making little ones out of the big ones
History teacher told me once what I should hope in
Now it's this lock stock and barrel and the promises broken

I guess I should get up and go get the mail
Long since overdue bills creditors screaming for theirs
Sure takes a toll on a love carved in stone
I'm wondering how she'd do living alone

I know I've cleaned my guns a lot this fall
You know how it is when you're so
Sick of it all

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Reggaeton Fi Tanja

(This is my official Last Tangier Posting. I typed it up before packing my computer into my suitcase. Then I didn't get to publish it before I flew out, because they have cancelled consigned bags at Casa Voyageurs train station. Among the most annoying and underrated results of transportation-focused terrorism is the unannounced cancellation of luggage consignment and lockers. I ended up going directly to the Muhammad V airport and killing 10 hours there... In any case, on with the blog post!)

I blogged recently about reggaeton, the Puerto Rican style that mixes reggae-dancehall, rap, and “Latin” sounds. I thought I was hearing it in the Tangier streets and in cars going by, but since I don’t speak Spanish I really couldn’t tell. I just listened to the samples on wayne&wax and thought I recognized the sound...

But on my last night in Tangier I found a great CD stand with almost everything I had been looking for. Along with CDs from Muslim and Zanka Flow, I also found:

Koupable, the latest from hotshot Algerian rapper Lotfi Double Kanon. (This is really great—probably the best yet I’ve heard for rapping in Arabic. If you understand Arabic, try to find and get a listen to the first track alone, “Intro.” It will blow your mind.);

The Kachla compilation CD (with contributions from DJ Suspect, Kachla, O-din, La-N, Islamic Gun, Arab Souljaz, La’arbee, Mojahid, Harbee, Zanka Flow, and Muslim);

’s latest, Mgharba ‘Tal Moute, and...

Reggaeton Beats Vol. 2! There were a couple of reggaeton compilation/remix discs—I chose the one that identified the musicians. Here’s a list of featured DJs and artists:

DJ Glenn B
MC Brainwave
R. Kelly
Luny Tunes
Papa A.P.
The Horny Crew
Pablo Bachatta
Raw Jawz
Andy’s Val
DJ Frank
Raw Jawz
Mega D
Misterio Y Hancel
Reezz & the GMC

DJ Glenn B seems to be the major force behind this compilation. The titles to the last three songs include the phrases “Wat Wil Je Doen Dan,” “In Het Gebouw—Bling Bling—Draai’t,” and “Groeten Uit Purmerend”... These words do not appear to be in Spanish. I am led to suspect that DJ Glenn B is based somewhere in Belgium or the Netherlands, and further that both of these Benelux countries are on the route that Reggaeton is following on its way to Morocco...

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Going Postal

I've added a new link to my blogroll, Aurgasm, after hearing one track, of "postal workers cancelling stamps at the University of Ghana post office."

(I've also added wayne&wax, long overdue.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

I’ll fight like hell to hide that I’ve given up...

On his 2005 album I’m Wide Awake It’s Morning, two songs by Bright Eyes (Conor Oberst) mention waking up to songs playing on the clock radio: "Old Soul Song" and "Another Travelin’ Song."

"Old Soul Song (For the New World Order)":

Gray light new day leaks through the window.
Some old song comes on the alarm clock radio.
We walked the forty blocks to the middle
Of the place we heard that everything would be


We left before the dust had time to settle
And all the broken glass swept off the avenue
And on the way home, held your camera like a Bible
Just wishin’ so bad that it held some kind of truth

This ballad recounts the story of a skeptic tagging along with his friend to an anti-globalization protest. The friend is documenting the protest with a camera, trying to fix and record "some kind of truth." Such documentation is also the task of Oberst himself as lyricist of this story song, which documents and preserves the actions and emotional states of young protestors who wake up early in order to "walk the forty blocks to the middle." The skeptical narrator and his friend are equally isolated from the cohesive groups that have organized the protest--perhaps a typical experience?--and although the friend is a true believer, the narrator lacks confidence that the protest will achieve anything. But he woke up to an "Old Soul Song," and perhaps this allowed him to feel vaguely hopeful.

"Another Travelin’ Song":


Well I guess the best that I can do now is pretend that I’ve done nothing wrong
And dream about a train that’s gonna take me back where I belong


Well I dream of dark on the horizon, I dream the desert where the dead lay down
I dream of prostituted child touching an old man in a fast-food crowd
Oh yeah I dreamt the ship was sinking, there was people screaming all around
And I awoke to my alarm clock. It was a pop song, it was playin’ loud.

The music of this rollicking pop anthem, the musical equivalent of a road movie, contrasts strongly to the ethereal and pensive atmosphere of the previous song. (Meanwhile, the lyrics provide a precise counterpoint to the music.) But again, we find the device of waking up to a song on the radio. In this case, however, it’s a "pop song playin’ loud"--bad music, the precise opposite of the good music of the "Old Soul Song." The narrator goes to sleep frustrated at his inability to write. He hopes that sleep will bring inspiration, or at least forgiveness--he intends to dream about riding the Freedom Train, a journey to liberation, eternal love and redemption. But once he's asleep, all conscious volition goes out the window. Instead of healing, his dreams bring painful nightmares--terrifying, ugly phantasms that are awfully realistic: the despair of being able to see only "dark on the horizon," isolation and apocalypse in a barren land, poverty and sexual exploitation in a brightly commoditized and hellish shopping mall, and finally the desperate terror of a sinking ship--in other words, no release at all from his cage. We can read the pop song, the bad music, as the source of all this darkness.

I never used to wake up with a clock radio. I’m not sure why, but I think it might have something to do with fear. You see, when you wake up to music, the music enters your dreams and provokes them. I can’t consciously recall most of my dreams past the first three or four seconds after waking up. If it was a good dream, I can spend the next five minutes waking up to a vague, peaceful yearning as I try and fail to remember the lovely details of imaginary stories, histories, sensations—forgetting more than I can remember. The only ones that are strong enough to remember tend to be very dark. Then, I wake up sobbing about terror, death, and loss.

But beyond the unreliability of talk radio or NPR, radio music can hold even more danger for that fragile state between waking and sleeping. If I wake to a good song, maybe one like the Old Soul Song, my whole day can start well. But if a bad song pierces my subconscious, a song I really dislike--usually a pop song playin’ loud--I can wake up in a dark mood, starting the day off badly.

But no radio station programs all good songs. Nearly all FM radio stations seem determined to play bad songs most of the time, with an occasional good song to keep up our hopes for beauty and sweetness, to tempt us to keep listening. So our compromise has been to tune to a reliable station that programs its early morning slot to the exact same set of songs day after day, inserting new songs very slowly, month by month. That way, my subconscious can come to expect the bad song, and it’s less of a shock. Additionally, it predicts the next two or three songs, and forces me awake and into the shower before the really bad song comes on and ruins my mood.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

My New Favorite French Word:

Fatweyer (verb; "to issue a fatwa")

Context? Hassan Hamdani's latest Humeur column in Tel Quel ("A fatwa set in concrete"), about Egyptian televangelist Youssef Al Qaradawi's latest proclamation that it's OK for Muslims to go into interest-bearing debt in order to procure housing.

"Mais Youssef Al Qaradawi a été rappelé à l'ordre par l'Iftaa, réunion d'oulémas marocains, seule habilitée à fatweyer de Tanger à Lagouira."

"But Youssef Al Qaradawi has been called to order by Iftaa, the Moroccan Ulema Council, which has sole authority to [issue fatwas] between Tangier and Lagouira" (extreme northern and southern towns in Morocco).

(Of course, this is "World French" and thus completely free from would-be "gatekeepers" like l'Academie Francaise...)